Bilbao | Photo: Tom Walton
Here's an old activity (probably best for B2 or above) I last did with learners a long time ago but which I happened to come across when doing the spring cleaning. I'm fairly sure the idea was the result of a conversation with my colleague Susana Ortiz one day in the staffroom…
Ten towns, outline
- Learners jot down on a piece of paper a list of 10 or more towns or cities they've been to
- For 10 of them, they should then write down one thing they vividly remember doing in each
- Mentally note which city is most important to them personally
If the things they remember are personal or appear trivial, that's not a problem — in fact it's probably going to be more interesting (provided of course they're not too personal!). They don't have to be things like visiting famous moments, but do have to be things vividly remembered.
In a group of three or four:
- Swop and read your partners' lists and discover which cities some or all of you have been to
- Also talk to them about anything on the list you don't understand as well as anything else that you find interesting or want to know more about
- See if you can guess which town, from what you are told, is most important to each of your partners
It's probably best to give at least a couple of examples. Here are 4 of mine:
- Bilbao (where I could no longer find the city I once knew)
- Paris (where I didn't find La Maga)
- Valladolid (where I understood a Bruce Springsteen song)
- A small town in the Pyrenees whose name I've now forgotten
As you can see, mine are short and rather enigmatic — but that's actually perfect for then jump-starting natural conversation, which is what we are after. As I remember it, the idea sprang from a coursebook unit on "Cities", but it also worked great as an ice-breaking getting-to-know-each-other activity with a new class.
Illustrate your list with a couple of quick doodles — like this example:
The original was definitely for this to be "no technology" but another colleague (Kate? Rachel…?) then tried the idea on an Edmodo group, where each member of the class posted their individual lists and then all participated in the subsequent commenting, in class time, using a computer room. A lot of fun!
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